Martin group

Accepting the City of Martin’s 2019 Healthy Hometown Community Award is front row left to right: Janet Speidel, Kiley Hump, Angie Brown. Back row: Faye Harris, Prairey Walkling, SDSU Extension family and community health field specialist.

BROOKINGS — The city of Martin was presented with a 2019 Healthy Hometown Community Award during the Chronic Disease Partners/Better Choices, Better Health Meeting on Oct. 16. The award recognized the Martin community for its accomplishments in health improvement initiatives within the community.

“We are pleased to present Martin with a Healthy Hometown Powered by Wellmark Community Award,” said Laura Jackson, chief health officer for Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield. “The city has earned the title of 2019 Healthy Martin and will also receive $5,000 to continue the important work of improving the physical, social and emotional well-being of the community.”

Some noteworthy achievements in Martin community include:

• The Bennett County School District implemented several school wellness initiatives including installing new water bottle filling stations, moving recess before lunch and banning unhealthy food and beverage marketing on school grounds.

• $40,000 of fitness equipment was purchased to be used at the Bennett County Fitness Center and in Bennett County schools.

• The community supported and implemented the Bountiful Backpack Program which teaches young people cooking skills and gives them the ingredients to practice at home.

• The Sunrise Housing Community Garden added programming to include food preparation training for children and teens at the Youth Center. Fifty local youth and 10 adults planted, maintained and harvested the garden.

• The community initiated a project where different organizations cook and serve a free meal each month to bolster community involvement and address food insecurity.

“SDSU Extension began working with the Martin community in 2015 through the Healthy Food, Families & Communities project, with funding provided by a 1416 Grant from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the South Dakota Department of Social Services, Office of Economic Assistance as part of the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed),” said Prairey Walkling, SDSU Extension family and community health field specialist. “A community coalition was formed and needs assessments were completed, including photographic surveys and a walk audit. Results were shared with the community and this information informed the work of the coalition, as they targeted policy, system and environmental changes to prevent obesity in Bennett County.”

“The Martin Wellness Coalition has been very active in my hometown of Martin for several years now and has helped to bring many positive changes in the health and wellness of our town,” said community member Anita Hicks. “This new grant will help us to build on the projects we have in place, as well as help with future ideas.”

Healthy Hometown Powered by Wellmark is a new initiative that works to make hometowns better places to live, work and play. Healthy Hometown uses proven tools and techniques to make simple changes in communities that have a long-lasting impact on health and well-being.

“The Healthy Hometown Powered by Wellmark Community Award celebrates the successes achieved by Martin and awards them the opportunity to perpetuate their on-going journey,” said Jackson.

To learn more about the work Martin is doing to support the well-being initiatives for a healthier, more active community, visit

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